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Dreadful Company

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Contemporary fantasy in the world of Strange Practice, starring Dr. Greta Helsing, whose family has been keeping the supernatural community not-alive and well for generations. When Greta Helsing, doctor to the undead, is unexpectedly called to Paris to present at a medical conference, she expects nothing more exciting than professional discourse on zombie reconstructive sur Contemporary fantasy in the world of Strange Practice, starring Dr. Greta Helsing, whose family has been keeping the supernatural community not-alive and well for generations. When Greta Helsing, doctor to the undead, is unexpectedly called to Paris to present at a medical conference, she expects nothing more exciting than professional discourse on zombie reconstructive surgery and skin disease in bogeymen -- and hopefully at least one uneventful night at the Opera. Unfortunately for Greta, Paris happens to be infested with a coven of vampires -- and not the civilized kind. If she hopes to survive, Greta must navigate the darkest corners of the City of Lights, the maze of ancient catacombs and mine-tunnels underneath the streets, where there is more to find than simply dead men's bones.


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Contemporary fantasy in the world of Strange Practice, starring Dr. Greta Helsing, whose family has been keeping the supernatural community not-alive and well for generations. When Greta Helsing, doctor to the undead, is unexpectedly called to Paris to present at a medical conference, she expects nothing more exciting than professional discourse on zombie reconstructive sur Contemporary fantasy in the world of Strange Practice, starring Dr. Greta Helsing, whose family has been keeping the supernatural community not-alive and well for generations. When Greta Helsing, doctor to the undead, is unexpectedly called to Paris to present at a medical conference, she expects nothing more exciting than professional discourse on zombie reconstructive surgery and skin disease in bogeymen -- and hopefully at least one uneventful night at the Opera. Unfortunately for Greta, Paris happens to be infested with a coven of vampires -- and not the civilized kind. If she hopes to survive, Greta must navigate the darkest corners of the City of Lights, the maze of ancient catacombs and mine-tunnels underneath the streets, where there is more to find than simply dead men's bones.

30 review for Dreadful Company

  1. 4 out of 5

    K.J. Charles

    An enormously enjoyable urban fantasy heavily based in period pulp (any book where Varney the Vampyre is back and has anxiety is all right with me). Greta is a lovely moral heroine, her gang of vampires, demon, psychopomps in Led Zeppelin T-shorts etc are great fun, there's a delightful slow burn romance (plus an unexpected bonus for romance lovers), pacey adventure, a gleefully crap modern edgelord vampire villain in body glitter, and even a delightful riff on one of the greatest MR James stori An enormously enjoyable urban fantasy heavily based in period pulp (any book where Varney the Vampyre is back and has anxiety is all right with me). Greta is a lovely moral heroine, her gang of vampires, demon, psychopomps in Led Zeppelin T-shorts etc are great fun, there's a delightful slow burn romance (plus an unexpected bonus for romance lovers), pacey adventure, a gleefully crap modern edgelord vampire villain in body glitter, and even a delightful riff on one of the greatest MR James stories. I read this while trying not to think about the US election and it actually worked. Very heavily influenced by later Terry Pratchett, about which I have no complaints--there are very few people who combine humour, adventure, kindness, and fierce morality well. Can't wait for the next.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Fiona

    Urban fantasy with heart would be how I'd describe this series - whatever happens, the overall sense of how things should be never changes, and the ultimate goal remains the same: right wrongs, help those who need it, and encounter all sorts of interesting monsters along the way. This time the action takes place in Paris, and the best parts - both the Catacombs and the Opera House got to play a central role this time. Ruthven and Varney are still around, of course, and some other familiar faces s Urban fantasy with heart would be how I'd describe this series - whatever happens, the overall sense of how things should be never changes, and the ultimate goal remains the same: right wrongs, help those who need it, and encounter all sorts of interesting monsters along the way. This time the action takes place in Paris, and the best parts - both the Catacombs and the Opera House got to play a central role this time. Ruthven and Varney are still around, of course, and some other familiar faces show up as the story moves along. The main enemy was fantastically done - body glitter really is a crime, especially for a vampire! - and Greta Helsing's world continues to flesh out around her and her adventures. Varney, by the way, only continues to tug on the heartstrings in this book. His contemplation of a rose's wasted life almost had me wanting to head out to buy all the wilting flowers I could find! His gentle arc over the book was one of my favourite parts, and I really look forward to seeing more of him as the series continues.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Mogsy (MMOGC)

    3.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2018/08/13/... Despite the mixed reviews for Strange Practice, I ended up enjoying it a lot and was very excited for Dreadful Company. Ironically though, it’s now this sequel that’s making me feel a bit conflicted. It was a fairly good book, though perhaps not great. And I definitely thought the first book was better. Dreadful Company picks up shortly after Strange Practice ended, once again following protagonist Greta Helsing, London’s 3.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2018/08/13/... Despite the mixed reviews for Strange Practice, I ended up enjoying it a lot and was very excited for Dreadful Company. Ironically though, it’s now this sequel that’s making me feel a bit conflicted. It was a fairly good book, though perhaps not great. And I definitely thought the first book was better. Dreadful Company picks up shortly after Strange Practice ended, once again following protagonist Greta Helsing, London’s monster expert and doctor to the city’s population of paranormal creatures. This time though, she has been called to Paris, where she is scheduled to speak at a supernatural medical conference. Just your typical travel for work, and nothing out of the ordinary—or at least that’s what Greta thought, as she prepares for a night out at the opera with the vampire Edmund Ruthven, her best friend who has accompanied her on this trip. Unbeknownst to them though, Paris’s labyrinthine underground is infested with a coven of unruly vampires, and they have been planning something nefarious for Greta’s arrival. But first, Greta encounters a small gremlin-like creature called a wellmonster in her hotel bathroom, its appearance intriguing her because wellmonsters aren’t typically seen unless they are summoned. Soon though, there are more sightings. Deciding that they warrant further investigation, Greta opts to stay behind while Ruthven returns home to England. But before she can get too far with her inquiries, Greta is kidnapped by the vampires, who are led by a real nasty piece of work named Corvin. Meanwhile, back in London, Greta’s disappearance has been noticed by Ruthven and Francis Varney, the vampyre who has been sweet on the doctor ever since she saved him in the first book. Setting off to find her, the two begin scouring Paris for clues while a parallel mission is also being carried out a pair of psychopomps who are investigating a worrisome influx of phantoms around the area. Dreadful Company and I did not exactly start off on the right foot. Compared to Strange Practice, the beginning here lacked the kind of urgency that pulled me immediately into the first book. While Paris was a nice change of setting and the wellmonsters were adorable and all, I thought this sequel took too long to take off and that on the whole its introduction was pretty uneventful. It wasn’t until Greta was kidnapped that I thought the plot started to pick up. Once the ball got rolling, however, I have to admit things become a lot more interesting. I was impressed at how engaging Greta’s sections managed to be, considering how she spends most of the early parts of the book imprisoned in a cell. The vampires who kidnapped her are given individual backstories and substance, and their presence proves that even in the supernatural world, things are not so simple or black and white. Greta also once again demonstrates why she is a credit to her profession, showing compassion and providing healing to whoever needs it. The worldbuilding was also one of my favorite elements from Strange Practice, and I love it here still. The riveting mix of old and new is alive and well in Dreadful Company, where we’re treated to an eclectic mashup of literary monsters in a modern-day setting. The city of Paris simply adds to this charm, as Vivian Shaw also throws in a few references and deferential nods to several French classics. She’s also expanded the world this time with new characters, and I especially enjoyed meeting Crepusculus Dammerung and Gervase Brightside, our spiritual guides to lost souls. That said, it’s possible that a bit of the novelty and magic has faded since the first book. Part of this is understandable, as there’s a sense that this sequel is more about reinforcing the ideas and themes that have already been established, settling readers comfortably into the world. There’s nothing terribly new or surprising, even a couple reused plot points. And because the characters were all split up, the narrative sometimes had to offer multiple perspectives on the same event, leading to repetition that wasn’t always necessary. Still, my fixed feelings and quibbles notwithstanding, I wasn’t really disappointed. While I didn’t think Dreadful Company was as good as Strange Practice, it retains that special kind of charm which made me fall in love with the first book. It’s what makes Dr. Greta Helsing such a unique urban fantasy series, and plan on sticking with it.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Lata

    This is an odd thing to say about a book about vampires, other monsters, and the medical doctor who specializes in treating their ailments, but I really like the vocabulary and many of the sentences in this book (as well as book one). The text is often ironic and the author had me laughing out loud at times when Greta commented on situations. Greta Helsing gets kidnapped by a coven of vampires led by a rather nasty fellow called Corvin soon after she arrives in Paris for a conference. This bring This is an odd thing to say about a book about vampires, other monsters, and the medical doctor who specializes in treating their ailments, but I really like the vocabulary and many of the sentences in this book (as well as book one). The text is often ironic and the author had me laughing out loud at times when Greta commented on situations. Greta Helsing gets kidnapped by a coven of vampires led by a rather nasty fellow called Corvin soon after she arrives in Paris for a conference. This brings Ruthven and Varney, and a new character, a werewolf who is a protector of others in Paris, together to rescue her. Turns out, Greta's managing quite well on her own, which I expected, using her relationships with some little monsters to help herself. In fact, it's Greta's ability to respect others and make relationships, and her keen analytical brain that are on display frequently in this book. Book one had a lot of things happening, and I didn't get as good a feel for Greta in book one as I do here. And despite Greta sitting in a cell for a lot of the story, I really enjoyed this book. Vivian Shaw expands her world with more monsters and others, for example, psychopomps, and more information on vampire physiology and ethics. I inhaled this book and now am eagerly awaiting more Greta Helsing.

  5. 5 out of 5

    BAM The Bibliomaniac

    A book for all Seasons: related to this season To be continued in 2019-a series I have not finished

  6. 3 out of 5

    Hackmops

    Dreadful Company was a nice follow-up to Vivan Shaw's excellent debut novel Strange Practice. Was it enjoyable? Overall, yes. Was it as strong as the first book? Not quite. For me, the main draw of the Greta Helsing series is the supernatural doctor stuff. It is so original and Greta is a very capable doctor - basically, if you enjoy Peter Grant's policing-with-a-side-of-spellcasting in the Rivers of London series, then Greta Helsing as a doctor to the not-quite-dead is likely to appeal to you. T Dreadful Company was a nice follow-up to Vivan Shaw's excellent debut novel Strange Practice. Was it enjoyable? Overall, yes. Was it as strong as the first book? Not quite. For me, the main draw of the Greta Helsing series is the supernatural doctor stuff. It is so original and Greta is a very capable doctor - basically, if you enjoy Peter Grant's policing-with-a-side-of-spellcasting in the Rivers of London series, then Greta Helsing as a doctor to the not-quite-dead is likely to appeal to you. This book had too little of the doctoring and too much of Greta being held captive (not really a spoiler as this happens fairly early in the book and dominates the plot throughout). To Shaw's credit, Greta is not a damsel in distress and (view spoiler)[ manages to rescue herself, thankyouvery much (hide spoiler)] but it did not really draw me in as I was disappointed that we were not going to see doctor work right off the bat. The plot took a good third of the book to get going.. The Good: The author has a knack for witty dialogue - I cackled out loud at the Eddie Izzard reference at the beginning and the Yorkshire vampire accent was also a nice and unexpected touch (LOL). The medical bits we got to see were great and when Greta snaps into doctor mode, it is a treat to read. This is new, this is special and this keeps me turning the pages. Some of the new side characters (and especially the new supernatural creatures) were also a good addition to the cast and I am intrigued if or how they will feature in the upcoming stories. The Bad: Speaking of the Yorkshire vampires, the main villian was ridiculous and I hope this was supposed to be a parody. I was also not too keen on the Big Bad (or to be precise, the minions of the Big Bad) in Strange Practice, so this might be something that definitely stuck with me. The Ugly: I was genuinely disappointed about the Paris setting - I had thought that with Greta being a doctor with an actual practice, we would remain in and around London. Apparently, this is not going to be the case with this series and it felt a bit of a letdown to me, especially as the whole thing about Greta needing somebody to cover her practice when she was out adventuring as there were only a few undead doctors was A Really Big Deal in book 1. I also did not care much for the whole Phantom of the Opera setup, it was too obvious and the plot was not as strong as I wanted it to be. Also, the (view spoiler)[budding romance (hide spoiler)] ? No. Did not work for me. This might sound super negative but I still enjoyed the book! I am just bummed that Dreadful Company did not quite live up to my expectations and increased some of the elements I did not enjoy that much in the first book. I will definitely read Grave Importance and continue with the series but I will keep my fingers crossed that there will be more medical stuff for me to enjoy.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Lena

    Greta is in Paris for a conference where she encounters true horror: a coven of poser vampires, as lacking in ethics as taste. The horror. The horror. I enjoyed the expanded characters, especially the French werewolf! This series has fuel for miles. Give me more!

  8. 3 out of 5

    Roslyn

    I enjoyed the first book in the series but this second one really delighted me. Even though it's fully situated in the urban fantasy genre, with magic, vampires, monsters and supernatural creatures of all kinds, it’s a cut above the usual. It’s partly the characters, and partly the writing (of course the characters are an expression of the writing, but it’s worth emphasising both). Greta Helsing, a doctor who also treats supernatural creatures, is smart, capable and kind, as are the members of he I enjoyed the first book in the series but this second one really delighted me. Even though it's fully situated in the urban fantasy genre, with magic, vampires, monsters and supernatural creatures of all kinds, it’s a cut above the usual. It’s partly the characters, and partly the writing (of course the characters are an expression of the writing, but it’s worth emphasising both). Greta Helsing, a doctor who also treats supernatural creatures, is smart, capable and kind, as are the members of her circle of friends, a circle that pleasingly expands during this novel. Unlike some writers in this sub-genre, Shaw doesn’t resort to over-using snark and satire for its own sake - not that I have anything against snark; it can be charming, but I get a bit tired of seeing it isn’t used as a sort of character-building shortcut. The characters here are witty and funny (though rarely gratuitously snarky) and have complicated and real feelings which are conveyed with a lyricism and clarity that is rare in this sub-genre. Beneath the action plot (which in itself is fairly unremarkable but written with great verve) lies an exploration of friendship, belonging and love, and there is real sense of cosiness and family in the novel (as well as a very subtle romance thread). There is a villain who is somehow both psychologically believable and silly - I often find villains annoying but this one just gets through my radar largely because of both these qualities. And some of the monsters Greta encounters are enormously endearing, including one who at first seems quite creepy. I'm totally charmed by this series now and am really looking forward to the next instalment.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Nikki

    Reviewed for The Bibliophibian. I was so excited to get this, and then I didn’t want to be over, and took longer than I should’ve to actually finish it. But while I was reading it, I was mainlining it: chunks and chunks of it all at once. I find Vivian Shaw’s writing just really easy to read, and it helps that I adore the characters. I was sad that there wasn’t more of Fass in this book, and I didn’t love some of the newer characters as much (Grisaille, but that’s obvious; Emily needs more develo Reviewed for The Bibliophibian. I was so excited to get this, and then I didn’t want to be over, and took longer than I should’ve to actually finish it. But while I was reading it, I was mainlining it: chunks and chunks of it all at once. I find Vivian Shaw’s writing just really easy to read, and it helps that I adore the characters. I was sad that there wasn’t more of Fass in this book, and I didn’t love some of the newer characters as much (Grisaille, but that’s obvious; Emily needs more development; more St. Germain wouldn’t go amiss; etc, etc), but I loved some of the little details — like the croissant-baking demon. I think I prefer the first book, because it has more teamwork, more togetherness. This book is less comfortable, somewhat, even though I find myself sure Greta can get herself out of anything with her knowledge and her level head. On the other hand, Varney and Greta are just sweet — this is a romance that kinda works for me, though I feel like some development was missed out on in the time between books. (A bit unavoidable without making it a romance straight up front, though, and it isn’t: the romance is just part of it. Friendship is a far bigger part, to my mind, particularly that of Ruthven and Greta.) All in all, I had a lot of fun and I think it lived up to how much I loved the first book. I’m looking forward to more with great eagerness! Also, I kind of want a whistler of my own. And a wellmonster.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Nick

    This picks up a few months after the first book, it's interesting to see where things have gone since that story ended and how the characters have changed or grown. The same warmth and humour is present in the writing and the sense of a wider much more complicated hidden world we saw a glimpse of in the first book is expanded upon a little. This is everything you could want in a sequel, the same writing and fun from the first book, the characters developing nicely and a nice new story. Oh and Spar This picks up a few months after the first book, it's interesting to see where things have gone since that story ended and how the characters have changed or grown. The same warmth and humour is present in the writing and the sense of a wider much more complicated hidden world we saw a glimpse of in the first book is expanded upon a little. This is everything you could want in a sequel, the same writing and fun from the first book, the characters developing nicely and a nice new story. Oh and Sparkling Vampires!!!

  11. 3 out of 5

    Shalini Nemo

    I definitely prefer the original. I find this sequel lacklustre, and at 70-something percent, nearly DNF'ed. I only pushed on because I've already gone too far up the road, but it wasn't really reading so much as skimming. Here's what worked: I like seeing the old gang back. Grisaille is awesome, loved him. Varney's line about the wilting flowers was lovely. Here's what didn't: So few women and it's nearly a reverse nonsexual harem. Greta herself got really boring, and the only two significant fe I definitely prefer the original. I find this sequel lacklustre, and at 70-something percent, nearly DNF'ed. I only pushed on because I've already gone too far up the road, but it wasn't really reading so much as skimming. Here's what worked: I like seeing the old gang back. Grisaille is awesome, loved him. Varney's line about the wilting flowers was lovely. Here's what didn't: So few women and it's nearly a reverse nonsexual harem. Greta herself got really boring, and the only two significant female characters from the previous book made no appearance. I would have been stoked to see a part-rusalka and a witch join in, because they were very untapped characters. Instead we got an incredibly tiresome coven of vampires and their incredibly tiresome boss-villain, also mostly male. The one interesting female got fridged. Hurray. Two nonvillain female vampires showed up for all of five minutes, all snooty and smirking and unhelpful, well, why couldn't they have been heroic, to counterpoint Greta? Ugh. Also, Alceste could have been a girl. New characters were unremarkable. The demon, the psychopomps with the weird ass names which is their only distinguishing characteristic. I wished we had more Fast. The villains didn't work - they were a little over the top, and it is not new to satirize or mock them. Overall I would not reread this, but I would reread the first book, because that one was fun and remained so with a recent reread.

  12. 4 out of 5

    William Gowling

    YES YES YES I'm so excited to read this! Despite not greatly enjoying bits of strange practice, I loved the way ending and want more of Greta and company! Dreadful company.... 😏

  13. 5 out of 5

    Falynn - the TyGrammarSaurus Rex

    In further evidence of my contrariness, most reviewers seem to have loved Strange Practice & not enjoyed Dreadful Company as much. I, on the other hand, thought Strange Practice was interesting but flawed and somewhat "choppy" in its scene jumps, but I thought Dreadful Company was written with much more assurance and control. However, as with book 1, it is a bit of a sausage-fest. There are hints of interesting female characters other than Greta, but we see very little of them. In Book 1, it In further evidence of my contrariness, most reviewers seem to have loved Strange Practice & not enjoyed Dreadful Company as much. I, on the other hand, thought Strange Practice was interesting but flawed and somewhat "choppy" in its scene jumps, but I thought Dreadful Company was written with much more assurance and control. However, as with book 1, it is a bit of a sausage-fest. There are hints of interesting female characters other than Greta, but we see very little of them. In Book 1, it was Greta's two friends who run the clinic who we met oh so briefly and then were constantly offscreen - and I am still hoping we get to see much more of them in the future. In this book, it was Emily & Lilith who were underserved (and the wonderful lesbian vampire couple who criminally only appeared in one scene - why? why????). Hopefully we will get more of Emily, and she will be allowed to develop more as a person, in future books. I did also wonder (view spoiler)[what the point of all of the Phantom of the Opera stuff really was. Ok it was interesting to visit the lake & the hidden places under the Opera Garnier, and I guess the time slips were good evidence of the fracturing of reality. But it felt kind of shoehorned in and not really integral to the plot. If Erik, or a ghost version of him, had broken through before they fixed things & started killing people, I would have understood that. But as it was, we just had Greta seeing visions & then... nothing. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ (hide spoiler)] If you want a plot recap, there are plenty of other reviews you can read. Suffice to say, despite its flaws, this is a fun romp of a novel in a wonderful setting and worth a read. Edited to add: Varney with anxiety & in love is possible the cutest thing ever. Bless!

  14. 3 out of 5

    Soukyan Blackwood

    all reviews in one place: night mode reading ; skaitom nakties rezimu About: Ghosts are haunting Paris. Some missing legs, others – arms. Some are even missing their heads. But then, there’s those catacombs down below, so no surprise, you’d say. And yet, why now? Answer, apparently, is classic and simple: there’s a coven of vampires down below, making a nest. Even ghouls moved out, be it due to arguments with new tenants, or too loud music. And from there, thus, they spread their reign of terro all reviews in one place: night mode reading ; skaitom nakties rezimu About: Ghosts are haunting Paris. Some missing legs, others – arms. Some are even missing their heads. But then, there’s those catacombs down below, so no surprise, you’d say. And yet, why now? Answer, apparently, is classic and simple: there’s a coven of vampires down below, making a nest. Even ghouls moved out, be it due to arguments with new tenants, or too loud music. And from there, thus, they spread their reign of terror over Paris, killing, turning the most beautiful, kidnapping. Nobody cared all that much, still, up until they kidnapped the wrong gal. They kidnapped Greta Helsing. Because, you see, their leader has an unsettled score with her friend, vampire Ruthven, and very much believes he’s in the rights and powers to destroy the offending creature. Greta, thus, is bait. If she survives, of course… Mine: Both books start a bit slow, but you just have to let them pick up the pace. Once it does, just pay attention for there’s claws, fangs, magic, reality alteration, as the badass vampires kick ass and take names. It feels like you read, and read, and read these vampire books, romances, fantasy books. And then you read these, and realize those really sucked. I’m happy with the series. Thanks for recommending them to be, B! The only thing I want more of is the science. I just checked goodreads, and apparently we’re getting third one on August 20th, so there’s plenty of time for everyone to catch up, and you really should if you like classical vampires have adventures in modern world. 5 out of 5 from me.

  15. 3 out of 5

    Doctor Science

    A lot of this is really beautifully-written, especially the descriptions of Paris. It's also a book about a kind person being competent, which I really need right now. Partway through I realized I was smiling because I was just so happy to be a reading a good book about people I like. I'll now have to re-read the first book -- I don't recall liking it quite this much, but it wasn't such a horrible day in RL when I read it.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    The first book in this series is one of my favorites ever, and the second book is no different. Vivian Shaw takes plenty of my favorite classic stories and a lot of very good stuff from her own very good brain and blends it into the perfect story. Nothing makes me happier than a new story with Greta and I can't wait for book three.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Becca

    God, do I love this series. If you like Ben Aaronovitch's RIVERS OF LONDON series, but find at times that the writing gets a little too abstract and strays from the point (as I sometimes find when reading them), this series is the perfect antidote. It's got everything I could want in a book with a few minor quibbles. I don't have a very coherent review other than: I loved this.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    Last year, Strange Practice, the first in this ongoing series, was one of my unexpected delights, so much so that it was one of my 'favourite five' Fantasy novels of the year. It shouldn’t be a surprise then that I was really looking forward to this one. Dreadful Company begins pretty much where we left things at the end of Strange Practice. If you remember, Dr. Greta van Helsing, daughter of the more-famous van Helsing, is a physician to those who live in the shadows. As part of her work she enc Last year, Strange Practice, the first in this ongoing series, was one of my unexpected delights, so much so that it was one of my 'favourite five' Fantasy novels of the year. It shouldn’t be a surprise then that I was really looking forward to this one. Dreadful Company begins pretty much where we left things at the end of Strange Practice. If you remember, Dr. Greta van Helsing, daughter of the more-famous van Helsing, is a physician to those who live in the shadows. As part of her work she encounters and helps many who need her unusual treatments – vampires, ghosts and the like. Here we begin with Greta at a hotel in Paris for a medical conference, with her vampire friend Edmund Ruthven. Expecting to do little more than deliver a lecture on zombie reconstructive surgery, instead Greta and Edmund find that Paris is in thrall to an evil nest of feral vampires in the dead catacombs underneath Paris, from which the story develops. Vivian manages to develop the characters we’ve already met. From the first chapter, Greta is again shown to be a caring person, whose job is unusual enough to make her encounters of great interest to the reader. Whether it is tissue regeneration in revenants, zombie reconstruction or helping vampires adjust to their change in circumstances, the sense that things are better for Greta being there shines throughout the narrative. Of course, she is not alone. Edmund is his usual paternal self, though he gets a chance to show how bad he can be, should the situation arise. Family friend and godfather Fastitocalon is back, healthier than before, and now doing the Devil’s work for him. Francis Varney (the vampire, yes – but, as has been said before, nothing like the caricature presented in James Rymer & Thomas Prest’s book) is as complex as he was before, and coincidentally Greta’s love interest. As well as the ones we know, there are other characters that are new. I loved Gervase Brightside and Crepusculus Dammerung, two remedial psychopomps whose prime purpose is to help lost souls pass over. They’re a kinder, gentler, nicer version of Neil Gaiman’s Croup & Vandemar, whose respectful banter reflects their long-time friendship doing a difficult job. They are immediately likeable, and possibly worthy of a series of their own. Much of the entertainment of the novel is not just about the characters, but also the unusual creatures Greta administers care to. Here we meet the rather mouldy European wellmonsters (different to the New World species!), who sit in the bottom of your bathroom basins and look after jewellery, and the faceless, longhaired tricherpetons, who seem to just hug people. As with Strange Practice, it’s clear that Vivian has fun with referencing other work.  In addition to the obvious Dracula, and the already-mentioned Varney the Vampyre, it should perhaps not be a surprise to find that there’s Gaston Leroux’s Phantom of the Opera and Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables in the mix as well, and some nods to other genre culture - Guy Endore’s Werewolf of Paris and M.R. James’ Whistle and I’ll Come to You, for example. Oh, and Patrick McGoohan’s The Prisoner. You don’t have to know these other works to enjoy this book, but those who do will appreciate the effort made. Of the minor niggles, there is much that is similar to Strange Practice – even Greta groans at finding herself stumbling around passageways in the dark again – but it is done with humour and a knowing nod at the implausibility of it all. The villains are a tad pantomime-like, but at the same time there’s a sadness around these characters that make them more than the usual archetype. As much as the bad-guys-and-gals want to belong to vampire society, it is clear pretty early on that they don’t belong and their consequent demise (do you really expect anything else?) is justifiable. Reading this book from the start is rather like the administration of a medical cure of its own. It is so refreshing and pleasant, though not sickly so. I find that it is rare these days for a seasoned old cynic like myself to find a book that just feels like a huge warm hug, that makes you so pleased to be reading it that you are sorry to see it finish. And yet, the Greta van Helsing series so far is just that: books full of warmth, with characters that you love and weird creatures that you get to love. And this one also has Paris. It’s almost enough to melt the heart of a jaded reviewer… In summary, reading Dreadful Company is like spending time with old friends – far from “Dreadful”, in fact. I absolutely loved it – I think that this is my favourite Urban Fantasy series since I first discovered The Dresden Files. Read the first book if you haven’t already – but I’m sure that you will want to read this one straightaway afterwards if you can.  Dreadful Company is a triumph.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Adri Joy

    Dreadful Company builds on the strengths of the first volume in the series, delivering another solid urban fantasy adventure. Dreadful Company is the second novel from Vivian Shaw in the Dr Greta Helsing series, following last year's Strange Practice. Readers who follow a fair bit of fanfiction may have already come across Shaw's works in the Homestuck, the MCU and Star Wars fandoms as coldhope. This background puts Shaw in a strong position to bring some of the most interesting aspects of transf Dreadful Company builds on the strengths of the first volume in the series, delivering another solid urban fantasy adventure. Dreadful Company is the second novel from Vivian Shaw in the Dr Greta Helsing series, following last year's Strange Practice. Readers who follow a fair bit of fanfiction may have already come across Shaw's works in the Homestuck, the MCU and Star Wars fandoms as coldhope. This background puts Shaw in a strong position to bring some of the most interesting aspects of transformative fiction to this original series, which takes such venerable members of the vampire canon as Lord Ruthven and Varney the Vampyre, and effectively sets them in a modern AU, showcasing them in a new environment without needing to focus on their process of adaptation. As her surname indicates, Greta is a descendent of Abraham Van Helsing -- though the family dropped the "Van" a while back -- and she's inherited the family business, but it's not the one you'd think: instead, she runs a medical practice dealing with the problems of London's supernatural denizens. Greta has built a strong community with the undead of London, and most of the undead cast have happily established their niche in 21st century London, and are strongly invested in protecting it against those who threaten it in any way. Dreadful Company picks up the narrative some time after the end of Strange Practice, with Greta and Ruthven on a visit to Paris as Greta prepares to present a paper at a supernatural medical conference. Before they get there, however, there's time to visit the opera and get in their contractually required Phantom references. To Greta's surprise, while there's no ghostly apparition in Box 5, there is a creepy vampire in need of a haircut staring at her from another of the theatre's boxes. Said vampire quickly makes his terrible aesthetic and coven management skills - and his vendetta against Ruthven - into Greta's problem by abducting her to his lair in the conveniently atmospheric catacombs of Paris, where she comes into contact with the rest of his terribly-dressed coven and the mess they have made of 1) the city, 2) themselves and 3) the fabric of reality. Read the full review at: http://www.nerds-feather.com/2018/07/...

  20. 4 out of 5

    Rpaul Tho

    I really wasn’t as enamoured with this one versus the first one of the series. The characters were hard to tell apart given that the new ones were introduced properly or developed until too late in the book. I wanted to really enjoy it, but found it tasking at the beginning. In the end, I liked the book, just not my favourite.

  21. 5 out of 5

    David Thalenberg

    I am enamoured I love this world of cute monsters, demonic corporate structures, vampires who believe in their own worst stereotypes, and a dedicated doctor of really really alternative medicine. Please continue as long as you are able, and thank you.

  22. 3 out of 5

    Lisa

    I loved the first book of this series so much I immediately dove into the sequel and I have no regrets for binge reading them and going off my reading schedule for this one. It’s such a wonderful follow-up. One of the things I loved most about the first one was the characters, and that remains true here. Greta is still the focus in this one, but she’s off on her own (mostly) for a conference in Paris when she meets up with some of the bad elements of the city’s supernatural community. Finding her I loved the first book of this series so much I immediately dove into the sequel and I have no regrets for binge reading them and going off my reading schedule for this one. It’s such a wonderful follow-up. One of the things I loved most about the first one was the characters, and that remains true here. Greta is still the focus in this one, but she’s off on her own (mostly) for a conference in Paris when she meets up with some of the bad elements of the city’s supernatural community. Finding herself in trouble, it’s up to Greta to find her way out the predicament. At first I was kind of upset to see Greta separated from the rest of the characters, because I enjoyed the group dynamics so much in book one and I missed them at first. But in the end I love that we got to see Greta on her own here because we really get to see her resourcefulness and cleverness in action. Greta doesn’t wait around for someone to rescue her (although that would be nice). Knowing that she only has herself to rely on, she takes matters into her own hands. And even though Greta’s life is in danger she never loses her sense of self. She’s still wryly observing things around her and doing her best to help people in need of medical care, even if they don’t always appreciate her interference. Also, having Greta separated from her friends for a lot of the book made the eventual reunion between them that much sweeter. We get to meet some new characters in this one, mostly people Greta meets in the Paris underground. A lot of these creatures are not very nice. (I do enjoy all of her observations about these other vampires though, and how it feels like they’re doing it all wrong. Some of the things are pretty hilarious to be honest.) I really liked a lot of the new characters even though some of them took some warming up to because you don’t really know where they stand for a while. I also liked that we got to explore a new city in this one and see how the supernatural community functions outside of the bubble we’re familiar with. There aren’t always rules, and it seems like there are just some people that kind of spring up to keep an eye on things and make sure that folks aren’t doing anything too stupid. Is there a morality? Maybe not always, but most of the people that keep the peace seem to be on the ‘good’ side of things. These books just make me happy. The main characters in Greta’s group are lovely, even though some of them are creatures straight of horror novels (some of them, literally). When they come up against obstacles they’re not afraid to fight back and do what has to be done, but they’re still good folks. They care about one another and they care about the greater good. Very much looking forward to the next book. 4/5 stars.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Karen Wellsbury

    I really enjoyed the first book in this series, but this was better. I think maybe because the main characters - Greta, Varney and Ruhven are more familiar and fleshed out, maybe because Greta is so bloody capable and funny, and maybe because of the well monsters and the Whistle monster. Either way I loved this. I particularly enjoyed the warmth of the friendships and the burgeoning love between Greta and Varney, and also how the gang rallied around Emily and Grisaille (former bad vampire) .And on I really enjoyed the first book in this series, but this was better. I think maybe because the main characters - Greta, Varney and Ruhven are more familiar and fleshed out, maybe because Greta is so bloody capable and funny, and maybe because of the well monsters and the Whistle monster. Either way I loved this. I particularly enjoyed the warmth of the friendships and the burgeoning love between Greta and Varney, and also how the gang rallied around Emily and Grisaille (former bad vampire) .And once more together defeat the bad guys and save the day. It's a funny, fast paced adventure with a splendid female lead, and I am hooked into this series now.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Donna

    Greta Helsing, doctor to the supernatural, is kidnapped by a coven of vampires while attending a medical conference in Paris. I very much enjoyed the first book in this series but this sequel disappointed me somewhat. I wanted to spend more time with Greta and her medical practice in London and with her friends. While most of Greta's friends come with her to Paris, she spends nearly all of this novel as a prisoner or attempting to escape. There's very little on the medical end. I've read a lot of Greta Helsing, doctor to the supernatural, is kidnapped by a coven of vampires while attending a medical conference in Paris. I very much enjoyed the first book in this series but this sequel disappointed me somewhat. I wanted to spend more time with Greta and her medical practice in London and with her friends. While most of Greta's friends come with her to Paris, she spends nearly all of this novel as a prisoner or attempting to escape. There's very little on the medical end. I've read a lot of urban fantasy; I want more of what makes this series different. The author throws in too many point of views - Corvin, the main bad guy vampire, was too over the top and I didn't need to see any of the book through his eyes. I think the portions of Corvin's second-in-command and the two psychopomps could have been decreased. This would have made the book tighter and about a hundred pages shorter. I liked reading this, but I would put it down at portions and not feel a real urge to pick it up. The third book is apparently Greta visiting a health spa for mummies in another country so I'm a little leery of it. I'll still give it a try but please Vivian Shaw - more medicine!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    Not enough dread in this one. Never felt any real threat from the feckless Corvin or from the time slips. Maybe the writing was a little too light hearted and the monsters a little too cute and sweet to make me take the situation seriously.....

  26. 3 out of 5

    All Things Urban Fantasy

    Review courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy. DREADFUL COMPANY doesn’t learn from the missteps of the first novel. Too many side characters overwhelm what could have been a simple plot: that Greta Helsing is missing and must be found. Although I’m never a fan of damsel in distress storylines, I was looking forward to seeing Greta separated from Ruthven, the charming joie de vivre vampire from the first novel. Greta didn’t get a chance to shine in Strange Practice and I was certain that pulling her Review courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy. DREADFUL COMPANY doesn’t learn from the missteps of the first novel. Too many side characters overwhelm what could have been a simple plot: that Greta Helsing is missing and must be found. Although I’m never a fan of damsel in distress storylines, I was looking forward to seeing Greta separated from Ruthven, the charming joie de vivre vampire from the first novel. Greta didn’t get a chance to shine in Strange Practice and I was certain that pulling her away from the more developed vampire characters would allow the author to focus on what makes Greta tick. But Greta never ticks. She never leaps from the page and into the reader’s heart. She’s sweet, kind, and always does the correct thing. While I love having a kind and generous main character, Greta selflessness is unbelievable. She’s kidnapped, tortured, but can’t help but empathize and try to help her captors. Giving Greta a moment of hesitation, a moment of cruelty that she later regrets would have added much needed depth to her character. The other characters seem so affected by Greta’s presence, I only wanted a modicum of that. Throughout the novel I kept forgetting what time period it was supposed to be set it. Perhaps it was all the operas and gowns and caverns. For a modern novel the female characters always feel a little disposable. Even though the series bears her name, Dr. Greta Helsing is never the main character. Greta feels like a holdover from a concept that the author couldn’t leave behind in the first draft. She exists to give Ruthven a person to bounce jokes off and play dress-up or she’s there to give Varney a reason to care. Even in the structure of the book, Greta isn’t considered the main character. Ruthven and Varney have their own POV, as do two ghosthunters who don’t become relevant to the plot until the book is almost complete. I ended up skipping or skimming most of the ghosthunter sections. I was there for Greta, not for a ‘Waiting for Godot’ stand-in. DREADFUL COMPANY never seizes the character growth that was hinted at in the first novel. If you’re looking for an easy read and have a special place in your heart for chummy vampires, you may be a more forgiving reader than I was. Sexual content: N/A

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ziggy Nixon

    4+ stars! Another exceptional read from Vivian Shaw! I'm not one to generally go along with the sort of Hollywood-esque praise (you know: love love kiss kiss, let's do lunch DAH-ling) that is oft included in the small-case, roman-numeraled pages of new books. However, I am going to borrow some comments describing 'Strange Practice' that work just as well for 'Dreadful Company', allowing for the whole time-space continuum bits that I'm no doubt violating for doing so! 'Dreadful Company' is indeed 4+ stars! Another exceptional read from Vivian Shaw! I'm not one to generally go along with the sort of Hollywood-esque praise (you know: love love kiss kiss, let's do lunch DAH-ling) that is oft included in the small-case, roman-numeraled pages of new books. However, I am going to borrow some comments describing 'Strange Practice' that work just as well for 'Dreadful Company', allowing for the whole time-space continuum bits that I'm no doubt violating for doing so! 'Dreadful Company' is indeed a 'joy to read' and 'an exceptional and delightful' follow-up Shaw's first book (seriously, how is it she is just starting on this career?). And I can only echo that it is 'written with elegance, wit and compassion!' The tension, the passion and the characterizations that the author creates or continues as the case may be are a sheer pleasure to experience! To be just a little more crude about the situation: Dr. Greta Helsing and her pals kick ass! Just as with the first book, the plot is balanced with a good dose of humour, more than a dollop of horror and leaves the reader cheering for the heroes no matter their particular living or unliving status! And the fact that this second book takes us to my favourite city, namely Paris (sorry London) makes it all the more thrilling knowing I having stepped or supped or goodness knows what exactly where so much of the action happens! Simplement magnifique! Though I had not joined Goodreads when I read the first book last year, I will repeat what I told my friends in other forums at that time: for the first time since the passing of the immortal Sir Terry Pratchett, I feel an author really knows how to treat all the creations of our imagination. Vampires (and vampyres) have real needs and concerns as do demons, ghouls, werecreatures, zombies, ghosts, mummies and more! If this keeps up - and the blurb about the upcoming third volume only raises my interest in extremus - she will prove to be a worthy successor in that regard indeed. I COMMAND THEE MORTALS: READ THESE BOOKS!

  28. 3 out of 5

    Milou

    After hugely enjoying the first book, this one was a bit of a disappointment. I really liked how unique the series started of. Although we still have some interesting creatures here, it goes back to being a standard vampire novel (complete with sparkling vampires, orgies and a werewolf). The story is set in Paris, but apart from some scenes at Père Lachaise and a bunch of croissants, there isn't anything that brings this wonderful setting alive. A missed opportunity... And then tere is the issue o After hugely enjoying the first book, this one was a bit of a disappointment. I really liked how unique the series started of. Although we still have some interesting creatures here, it goes back to being a standard vampire novel (complete with sparkling vampires, orgies and a werewolf). The story is set in Paris, but apart from some scenes at Père Lachaise and a bunch of croissants, there isn't anything that brings this wonderful setting alive. A missed opportunity... And then tere is the issue of the many, many points of view. This can be nice, if done well. But here it greatly slowed down the story. Certain revelations regarding the mystery have to occur several times, and there is a lot of time lost in characters catching up with each other. The saving grace are the amazing characters. I adore Greta Helsing (although I can imagine she might not be for everyone). She is a workaholic, down to earth, resourceful... normal. She does what needs to be done, and if that is helping her wounded kidnapper than so be it. And she can take care of herself just fine, thank you. There is some romance I could have done without, but it didn't bother me (which is very hard to accomplish). Our original team of characters is great again, and there are some very good new side characters added to the mix. Overall, the writing is good and the dialogue realistic with the perfect amount of humour. Having said that, there were some cringy moments where characters quote certain movies/series, a fact that is rubbed into our face. While really, 'What do you want?' isn't that good of a quote... It was a fun read, with plenty of flaws. But it kept me very entertained and I definitely pick up the third book in this series as soon as it comes out.

  29. 3 out of 5

    Yaaresse

    Oh, that was just a ridiculous amount of fun. With the first book of this series, there was an awkward getting-to-know-you phase that one had to get through in order to get to the story. Shaw's writing seems sharper and more confident this time around, and she's figured out how to introduce the premise to any newcomers without boring those of us who read the first book in the series. She relentlessly pokes fun at undead trope -- nearly choked on my coffee at the first (snide) reference to body g Oh, that was just a ridiculous amount of fun. With the first book of this series, there was an awkward getting-to-know-you phase that one had to get through in order to get to the story. Shaw's writing seems sharper and more confident this time around, and she's figured out how to introduce the premise to any newcomers without boring those of us who read the first book in the series. She relentlessly pokes fun at undead trope -- nearly choked on my coffee at the first (snide) reference to body glitter -- and works in some nods to classic books and movies as well as 90s culture. Once in a while it was a little heavy-handed, but still fun. (And given this series will likely have many readers who won't remember the 90s beyond faint images of their playpen or Rugrats, then she is probably right to overemphasize some of the things she did.) We have a new pretty-boy angst-ridden vamp to entertain us. I'm not quite sure about Grisaille yet. His conflict resolution was a bit abrupt, but I think he's going to turn out to be more interesting and convincing as the series continues. And I hope it does continue.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Mo

    Vivian Shaw is hilarious. Imagine a coven of vampires and a werewolf in modern-day Paris, but since they've all lived hundreds of years they have very specific ideas about How Things Are Done. And then there's the lone human, Dr Greta Helsing, who has the brusque but kindly doctor thing going on in a big way and whose practice is entirely monster-based. And it's all propelled by a bit of a suspensey thriller and some romance during which many other monsters make regular appearances. If I'm makin Vivian Shaw is hilarious. Imagine a coven of vampires and a werewolf in modern-day Paris, but since they've all lived hundreds of years they have very specific ideas about How Things Are Done. And then there's the lone human, Dr Greta Helsing, who has the brusque but kindly doctor thing going on in a big way and whose practice is entirely monster-based. And it's all propelled by a bit of a suspensey thriller and some romance during which many other monsters make regular appearances. If I'm making it sound like the plotting is less than excellent, it's only because I can't possibly do these books justice. They're clever and unexpectedly heartwarming, and I love them. They're also books you can fully enjoy if you're like me, and pop culture references are your only knowledge of horror classics. I think Dreadful Company would work as a standalone, but Strange Practice is delightful too, so why not start there.

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